Ski touring: First Hut trip
WHERE: Shrine Mountain Inn, a backcountry hut operated by the Tenth Mountain Trail Association. We will cross-country ski approximately 2.5 miles from the trailhead at the top of Vail Pass to the hut.
WHAT: Students will have the opportunity to learn basic telemark skiing, snow science, and winter outdoor skills. This is the first in a series of winter hut trips that continues in Sixth and Seventh Grades.
The school has skis, boots, poles, climbing skins and backpacks to outfit the entire class. Students practice with their equipment on campus and on local ski mountains several times before departing on the expedition.
On the first morning, we depart the trailhead to ski in as a group, traversing forested meadows to the Shrine Mountain Inn, a complex of small, cozy huts. After orienting ourselves to the hut and covering some basic backcountry skills (melting snow for drinking water, chopping firewood), we prepare dinner and settle in for the evening. At least one night, we will go out for a night ski, and we also spend some daytime hours outside to learn about snow science, practice our telemark turns, and enjoy lunch outside. We all work together to prepare dinners and breakfasts. On the last morning, we wake up early to pack up before heading back to the trailhead.
Winter hut trips offer children a memorable outdoor experience along with deep practice in expedition behavior. This is the first of a series of three winter hut trips, and by the time they complete their Seventh Grade expedition, students have gained ski touring skills to use for a lifetime.
- Students should bring ONE LUNCH and SNACKS FOR TWO DAYS. The school will provide all other meals. Snack ideas: G.O.R.P., salami, cheese, packets of nuts, dried fruit, etc. NO CANDY allowed on the trip.
- All students should bring two full water bottles, preferably the Nalgene bottles with a screw-on lid rather than bicycle water bottles or Camelbacks, which can freeze. One bottle will be consumed and left on the bus, and each child will leave the trailhead with a full bottle. Please remind your child to begin hydrating the night before the trip.
- Backpacks need to be big enough to carry all personal gear and should have a waist belt that fits and rests on top of the hips. If you own a good pack and would prefer to use it, please bring it in to be checked.
- Packs must be kept light by strictly adhering to the equipment list. It is important at this age for students to pack themselves with a minimum of parental help.
- The group will not be traveling in any avalanche terrain, and we will be traveling together in one group.
- The secret to staying warm in the backcountry is to stay dry. Cotton kills!
- Avoid any cotton clothing. Lightweight wind shell and snow pants are a must.
- Elastic at the bottom of snowpant legs is also critical to keep snow out of the boots. Make sure your pant cuffs are sufficient to keep out the snow.
- Blisters on the first day are always a problem. The leaders will be carrying blister kits as well as complete First-Aid Kits. An old trick to prevent blisters: try putting duct tape on the heel before leaving home on the first day.
- Wear 2 pair of warm socks – one thin and one thick. Buckle boots tightly.
- As the first day is a gentle uphill climb carrying a full pack, students should dress lightly — and in layers — to avoid overheating. You can keep a warm later on the top of your pack for quick access if needed.
- Parents: If your child has any food allergies, medical conditions we should be aware of, or any specific food requirements, please contact the Outdoor Education program directors, at email@example.com
Complete instructions, packing lists, and staffing details arrive via ParentSquare shortly before each trip. At least one certified Wilderness First Responder accompanies every expedition. NOLS Risk Services of the National Outdoor Leadership School has recently completed a comprehensive analysis of policies and procedures for the Outdoor Education program at Aspen Country Day School. This program operates under special use permit from the USDA Forest Service, White River National Forest.